"Welcome to the Coffee Pot. Your home away from home. The special today home style pot roast with apple pie for dessert for a dollar. What can I get ya'?"
"The special sounds good, Miss."
"Sure thing. One special, Cookie! Oh, you've got the afternoon paper. Gee, that sure is a swell picture of Dick Tracy on the front page. Worth saving. Reading about that business at the Wood Plastics Inc. factory last night? Boy, some hot stuff! Oh, would you like some coffee?"
"Thanks. Cream and sugar."
"Cookie and me, we know all about it. Probably more than the newspaper boys."
"Sure. Being just around the corner from headquarters, we get a lot of business from the cops. They like our coffee. We hear a lot of the inside dope."
"Dick Tracy himself eats here?"
"Sure. Well ... not as often as some of the guys...well, not as often as I'd like. Ha. Ha. But he does like our apple pie, especially when he's celebrating."
(1909 - 1952)
Uncredited in many of his over 80 films, actor Ralph Byrd found the role he was born to play in the 1938 serial Dick Tracy Returns. He would portray the famous comic strip detective in 2 other serials, 2 features and a television series (1950-52). The handsome and energetic actor was felled by a heart attack at the age of 43 leaving a widow and teenaged daughter, and many fans.
"Know anything about this business in the paper?"
"Sure. But the thing is, it doesn't start at Wood Plastics. No. It starts at the University. This Professor A. Tomic goes to the cops with a problem. He's got the feeling he's being followed and doesn't know what to do about it. Chief Brandon thinks he's a crackpot, but Tracy offers him protection. What everybody doesn't know is that it's already too late.
Anyway, before the night is over Dick Tracy is sidelined by a little problem from Pat Patton. He's Tracy's assistant. Anyway, Patton is running in this drunk for Officer Carney, but the guy dies in Patton's car. Or did he?"
"Are you pulling my leg, sister?"
"No, sir. Patton says the guy was stiff as a board. He took him to the morgue and even the police doctor thought it was a case for homicide. That's when Tracy came into it. Only by the time he got the morgue Patton was out for the count because whatever "killed" the drunk wasn't permanent. He woke up, slugged Patton and hightailed it outta there."
"Sounds incredible. More coffee, please."
"Sure thing. Anyway, the next day - you probably read about it - was that freaky robbery at National Bank. Tess Truehart, she's Dick Tracy's sweetie and honestly, that woman gets into more trouble...well, anyway, she was in the bank during the robbery. Something happened to everybody in that bank. At exactly 3 o'clock everybody froze stiff! You know, like playing statues when we were kids. Well, everybody froze except for Tess. She was in the phone booth and stayed alert. Must have been a crazy thing to see. While everybody was stiff as a board, the crooks come in and gather up the money like they was picking berries or something. Tess - well, she's a smart one, I'll give her that - she phones HQ and gets the coppers on the job. Only it was another bank guard that messed up the getaway and ended up getting shot for his troubles. Sad."
(1887 - 1969)
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome ended Boris Karloff's contract with RKO which gave him some of the best roles of his film career under Val Lewton's unit with The Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead and Bedlam. The latter part of Boris' career would see him return to Broadway for The Linden Tree, The Shop at Sly Corner, Peter Pan and The Lark (Tony nomination) along with a mix of film and television work.
"What's the bank job got to do with the "dead" drunk or the professor for that matter?"
"The professor is the brains behind the statue deal and the leader of the crooks is none other than our pal the stiff."
"No kidding. More coffee?"
"The people at the bank were frozen by some sort of gas from some sort of unknown chemical. One of our regulars is Fred, and he's a police analyst. It's his job to figure out stuff like that. Anyway, Tracy figures this leads right back to Professor A. Tomic, but when he gets to the university the Egghead is missing. I.M. Learned, Assistant to the prof co-operates with Tracy, but only to a point. She's a classy and smart gal, but all us gals got our weaknesses and hers, natch, is a fella."
"What fellow, the professor or the walking dead guy?"
"Someone else entirely. Mr. L.E. Thal, the owner of Wood Plastics Inc."
"Oh, so that's where last night's business comes in."
"Yeah. This Thal character is stepping out with Irma, the lady scientist. He hears about the chemical the professor was working on and gets the bright idea of using it for the bank robberies."
"Hold on. Does that explain the "dead" drunk guy?"
"You got it. You see, Thal has these big idea, not to mention the professor on ice, but he doesn't know anything about putting his ideas into action. He needs a real, genuine crook. And that's this Gruesome guy. He got knocked out by the gas before he realized what it was. I was real close to Gruesome once and boy, does that moniker do him justice!"
"When was this?"
"Well, Fred sets me up with this cousin of his that works for the City. He's an ambulance driver. I'm all set for a night on the town and you know where the guy takes me? The Hangman's Knot! Of all the dives in this town, he takes me to The Hangman's Knot. I'll bet ya' Dick Tracy never takes Tess Trueheart to a known spot for your underworld types. Even the piano player, a guy called Melody, was an ex-con. Turns out Melody is part of the Thal gang and when his buddy Gruesome gets outta the Pen, he joins the gang. Joins it! He takes over.
Anyway, I'm about to tell the big spender I'm with how he can spend the rest of his evening when in walks Gruesome. Big fella. Musta been about 7 feet tall. Nasty lookin' face and a reach on him that could take out three or four guys. Real weird. I swear if I didn't know better I'd swear it was Boris Karloff. He and Melody make themselves at home and start palavering with this creepy little guy with coke bottle glasses. Looks suspicious and later I'm able to pass this on to the cops myself."
"Gee, you were really in the thick of things."
"I see the little fella sneaking out via a back room and the next thing you know Dick Tracy and Pat Patton show up. They tied in Patton's weird drunk with The Hangman's Knot on Carney's beat and were checking the joint out. When Patton gloms onto Gruesome, the lights go out and Gruesome and Melody take one quick powder with Tracy and Patton right on their tails. There's a crack-up. Gruesome gets away, but Melody is banged up something fierce. Doctors don't give him much hope and they're right."
"How does that get us back to Wood Plastics Inc.?"
"The papers print a lot about Dick Tracy, but I don't think they tell half of the brave things he does. Tracy puts himself in Melody's place, all bandaged up and let's it leak that he's gonna spill to the cops. That's when Gruesome goes into action to silence his old pal. It's nothing to him. He's already offed that poor professor fella and the lady egghead. So Gruesome puts the snatch on Melody, but it's really Dick Tracy all along. Anyway, the whole megillah comes down to that shootout at the factory last night. Wow! Dick Tracy came close to buying the farm, but he got Gruesome and that guy will fry for sure."
"Thanks for the story. Tell Cookie I liked the chow. Keep the paper, Miss. Just in case you want that picture of Dick Tracy."
"Thanks. I will. Come back any time. The Coffee Pot is your home away from home."
The 1947 Blogathon is the brainchild of a couple of right dames called Karen (Shadows and Satin) and Kristina (Speakeasy).Day two recap here.
Day one recap here.
Day one recap here.
Day three recap here.